[Taxacom] I'm furious over article: On typeless species and the perils of fast taxonomy

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Thu May 12 23:49:41 CDT 2016

Hi Stephen,

> AArrrgghh ... now you are confusing me, Rich!

If I am, then I apologize.

> In the case of Marleyimyia xylocopae, a photo was used as a proxy for the type
> specimen, not in any "technical sense", or Code defined sense, but in everyday
> parlance. People may be misunderstanding the situation and thinking either
> that:
> (1) the photo is the type (but it isn't according to Art. 73.1.4); or, more likely
> that
> (2) there is no type. But there is a type specimen, it just isn't preserved, and we
> only know it via the photo). This is currently not disallowed by the Code.

Exactly.  Thanks for helping to clarify this point, which seems to have been lost on some.

> Anyway, as you said the real issue is whether there ought to be a requirement
> in the Code for types to be preserved in some way. This would disallow future
> cases like Marleyimyia xylocopae. My opinion is no, there should not be such a
> requirement. My reasons are that the requirement can be met by
> diagnostically useless types and would prevent cases like Marleyimyia
> xylocopae, which are arguably cases of good worthwhile taxonomy. Of course
> we want to avoid diagnostically useless photos, but no more so than we want to
> avoid diagnostically useless preserved specimens. I can't see any way in which
> the Code could place requirements on how diagnostic a specimen must be in
> order to count as a type, so we just have to promote good taxonomy, regardless
> of method, and hope that nobody would be silly enough to describe from photo
> only if they did have a good diagnostic specimen at hand to be the type.

Thanks!  This is exactly the sort of commentary I was hoping to see on this topic, and which I believe will be helpful to the Commission in guiding their decisions on this issue.


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